Second Sight

Inspirational Gallery 2From The Familiar Wolf – Inspirational Arts Photography Award Winner 2014. Photograph: Ciarán Healy

A first date can produce mixed results. You never want to see that person again. Or yes you do. Sometimes on the second date there is that pleasing sensation that your new object of desire is actually even better than your initial analysis. There is a way bigger spectrum to admire than at first sight. A similar revelation can often occur on second sight of certain exhibitions.

Equally pleasing is to simply stumble upon something artistically intriguing – but this isn’t really an available option anymore. There are websites with algorithms to do that for you now. Everything available is now organised, disseminated, tweeted and socially mediated so that the random encounter is now a rarity.

Recently on Culture Night to avoid a cloudburst I stumbled down the stairs to the Inspirational Arts Photography Gallery at the precise moment that the 2014 award for best student work was being announced. I had seen the work of the three finalists exhibited elsewhere at another gallery. But on that occasion there had been too many of the photographs to grapple with. They were spread over too large an area and not enough care had been taken in their presentation. But here in the Inspirational Arts gallery they had got it just right. Tight editing of content, perfectly mounted and with just the right juxtaposition of styles and subject matter.

Each of the three students chosen are of exceptional standard again demonstrating the quality currently emanating from all art and design schools nationally. The winning collection was Ciarán Healy’s The Familiar Wolf, a series of powerful domestic tableaus that transform and liberate the subjects as they are photographed in their homes surrounded by their dogs. The full gamut of both humans and canine companions are displayed providing an intimate portrayal that elevates those depicted. Ciarán Healy has managed to release some hidden depths to his human subjects through their domesticated best friends. A case of who let the humans out rather than who let the dogs out.

Inspirational Gallery1Inspirational Gallery3


Photographs: Fragments – Anna Janiszewska                 Live Aboard – Ingvild Melberg-Eikeland

Anna Janiszewska series of portraits or headshots entitled Fragments are also about releasing hidden inner qualities. But these are disturbed dreamlike imaginings and machinations. In her work faces are obliterated with insects, homological wheels emerge from inside heads or multiple faces are layered to produce a disturbing half-animal creature reminiscent of the surrealist work of Max Ernst.

The photographs of Ingvild Melberg-Eikeland have a steady eye and a documentary quality as they depict the disappearing world of those who choose to live on canal boats. A melancholic, Scandi TV noir quality pervades the photographs. Yet the subjects have a quiet resilience common to those who live their lives on the periphery of mainstream life.

All photos courtesy of the Inspirational Arts gallery.

Exhibition runs until the 17th October. Inspirational Arts, 7 Herbert Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. (


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